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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Experts hope to shatter the glass ceiling to attract female diplomats 

First ever Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference will also see students work together to prevent mock nuclear war

Dr Nawal Al Hosany, said new research had revealed a gulf between the number of male and female ambassadors. Pawan Singh / The National
Dr Nawal Al Hosany, said new research had revealed a gulf between the number of male and female ambassadors. Pawan Singh / The National

Experts from across the globe are to discuss breaking a “diplomatic glass ceiling” to encourage more women to represent their countries overseas.

The Emirates Diplomatic Academy announced that it will hold the first Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference next week.

Over two days, politicians, ambassadors and academics from across the world will share their experience to help countries improve the quality of their international representatives.

A major theme of the event will be exploring ways in which more women can be encouraged to become diplomats.

Research will be unveiled that is likely to reveal a stark gender gulf between the number of male and female ambassadors from G20 countries.

The study was commissioned after concerns that while many women work in embassies and international organisations worldwide, few are promoted to senior posts.

At a launch event yesterday, Dr Nawal Al Hosany, the UAE’s permanent representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency and deputy director of the academy, said there was an opportunity to promote gender balance.

“We have done research to test the gender balance picture globally,” Dr Al Hosany said. “The standards we have seen were not balanced.

“So we have decided it is an important issue. We are going to announce during the conference a very important initiative to help address some of the gender gaps we have seen in our research.”

The Emirates Diplomatic Academy was established in 2014. It is designed to equip the UAE’s diplomats of the future with world-class skills to represent the country abroad.

Phil Dufty, the academy’s director of research and ­analysis, said he wanted to “open up a conversation” about why so few women became senior ­diplomats.

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Mr Dufty said there was an “enormous amount of talent” among female students at the ­academy.

“Some of it is probably very similar to why you have these kind of challenges in many different organisations and sectors of the economy,” he said.

“But there may also be some challenges particular to ­diplomacy.

“It’s unique in that a career in diplomacy requires that you’re very mobile, that you can be posted at any moment by your ministry to another country. That may present challenges for women and families.

Representatives from Colombia, France, China and the US will be among about 300 delegates to travel to Abu Dhabi for the event.

It will include a series of talks and workshops, as well as a “peace game” in which trainee diplomats will try to solve a simulated geopolitical crisis that involves the risk of nuclear war.